AFTER THE PRISON PARTY
Convicted “Waterkloof Four” killers Frikkie du Preez and Christoff Becker were re-arrested only four days after being released on parole, after serving five-and-a-half years of their 12-year jail terms.
The two had been re-arrested on February 16, 2014, following their release on parole from Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru prison on Tuesday, February 11.
This follows evidence of an apparent jail cell party shortly prior to their release, as filmed on a cell-phone, and released to Rapport newspaper. In the video, Du Preez and Becker could be seen allegedly drinking alcohol, and using a cellphone in a jail cell.
Parole for the so-called ‘Waterkloof Two’ has been revoked, according to a statement released by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). Becker and Du Preez were sent back to prison on February 28.
But according to Constitutional law expert Marinus Wiechers “they didn’t break any parole conditions, they were naughty in the jail so the whole case is bizarre and it seems to me a bit of a high ended approach by the prison authorities as they’ve neglected to do their duty in considering the parole application.”
Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele on Wednesday warned that “anarchy” at correctional centres would not be tolerated. “Any official, or offender, found guilty of any such offence will face the full might of the law,” he said. It is however general knowledge that this was not an insolated incident in prison and that it is pretty much standard practice amongst inmates, if they can afford to buy these luxuries.
A newly-constituted parole board had to reconsider the application of Frikkie du Preez, one of the so-called Waterkloof Four, the High Court in Pretoria ruled in July 2014.
Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann ruled a new parole board should examine Du Preez’s parole bid, as a decision in February to revoke his bid was flawed.
“Unbeknown to the applicant (Du Preez), the composition of the board was changed. One community member was replaced by another who had not been part of the board’s public hearing.
“The new board then deliberated without a further hearing and resolved that the applicant’s parole ought to be revoked. The applicant sought a review of that decision on the grounds that it offended his rights to a fair administrative proceeding,” he said.
Bertelsmann said parole board procedures envisage a public hearing and should have allowed Du Preez to address it.
“The manner in which the board came to its conclusion does not comply with these fundamental principles. The new member did not hear any evidence, did not engage with the applicant’s representative,” Bertelsmann said.
“The applicant was denied the right to deal with any concerns that this new member might have. His right to have his fate decided by a board that had engaged with him was therefore infringed.”
He said the parole board’s decision was therefore fundamentally flawed and must be set aside. “The board must re-hear the applicant’s application. Pending the finalisation of the new proceedings, the applicant will remain incarcerated,” he said.
Christoff Becker home for Christmas
Becker recently made a similar application but the court argued that it was not an urgent matter. Becker’s lawyers persisted and brought an urgent parole application in the high court earlier this month, which the court eventually granted.
Judge André Louw ordered Becker had to be released on the same parole conditions on which he was released on February 11 this year, pending the appeal court’s decision whether Becker had in the first place had to appeal before the parole board where his parole was revoked.
His counsel maintain that he did not violate any of his parole conditions at the time he was whisked back to a cell after being out of jail for about five days. Their main contention was that the alleged violation was committed while they were still in prison. They maintained that it had nothing to do with their parole.
So on December 17th 2014, Christoff Becker was released on parole as per order of the court,” spokesman Logan Maistry said.
While Becker can look forward to a Christmas with his family, Du Preez will remain in the Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria. His lawyer, Oelof de Meyer, confirmed on Monday that they were not at this stage going to ask for an urgent order to release him. De Meyer said the department promised to reconsider his client’s parole on January 15 and they would wait until then to decide the way forward.
The DCS said an average of 64 prisoners were granted parole in the country every day. In addition to the country’s 156,939 inmates, 65,931 were outside correctional centres living in their respective communities. Compliance with parole conditions currently stood at 98.4 percent.